I have a ton ofold family stuff on VHS and I dont want to keep the VHS system anymore. I know that there are DVD-R to VHS converters and that there are VHSto DVD "Wizards"that use your laptop as a digital storage device and then download to a DVD+R. ANyone have any preferences?
Best thing to do is use a good stand alone VCR, and a good stand alone DVD recorder, and most importantly, to have a time-base corrector in the loop between the two.
Most time-base correctors are super expensive TV studio type equipment, but last I knew (which was some time back) there was a decent model priced at the consumer level. I'll try to look it up and see if it is still on the market.
This is the time base corrector I was thinking of.
I remember it costing $250 new. Briefly searching the internet, it looks like they are costing $480 used now. I'd guess they are no longer being made?
I just downloaded their 2012 PDF catalog and it is still listed as a product though. So I don't know what's up with it.
It's not worth $480, so whatever you do, don't pay that much.
A quick search brings up this time base corrector on Amazon:
If the first one is completely unavailable, this might be OK. Note the second customer review about how finicky it is though (the same review also mentions easy solutions).
This site says that there is some sort of cheap videoconferencing equipment that will do time base correction for VHS signals:
It also provides some good before and after pictures that show why you want to have time base correction between your VHS signal and your DVD recorder.
As for DVD recorders, the best for converting videotape were the higher end JVC and Toshiba models from 2005-2006. They had great filters that removed many of the defects introduced by VHS signals (especially if a time base corrector was also used).
However, those models have not been on the market since 2006. If you find one used that is still in good working order, the seller will probably be someone who knows its rarity, and its value in converting videotape, and they'll probably charge a fair amount of money for it.
As far as new DVD recorders go, the better Panasonic models of today are probably the only ones that have filters for removing VHS defects (nowhere near as good as the aforementioned greats from 2005-2006 though). Other brands from today don't have any filters for removing VHS errors, and so will not be nearly as good at recording from VHS.
Panasonic DVD recorders keep the video at maximum resolution (720 x 480) all the way to 4 hour mode, and that stretches the data pretty thin, so if the video has any sort of complicated movement you'll want to keep it to 2 hour mode or better if you can. Otherwise you'll have tons of macroblocking.